The Checklist Manifesto – Applications for Teachers

Curriculum Team Leader

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In The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande argues that when carrying out complex tasks, people make mistakes for two reasons: ignorance and ineptitude.  He argues we live in an age of ever-decreasing ignorance but that decreasing ignorance leads to ever-increasing complexity in the tasks we’ll have to complete.  This difficult balance, he argues, between knowledge and complexity means most of our mistakes will trace their origin back to our own ineptitude.  Gawande’s field is medicine but it’s hard not to see parallels with teaching.  Gawande’s solution for tackling ineptitude in the face of complexity is probably a controversial one for teachers.  It’s a checklist, basically a system you work through when faced with a complex task in order to minimise the chances of failure and maximise the chances of success.

Gawande says things in his book that probably wouldn’t go down well in your average staff…

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